When I started this blog, I intended to do more outfit posts. I'd looked at some of the stuff people were putting up, and while a lot of them were WAY more stylish than anything I ever put together, it seemed simple enough. Put on some nice clothes, take some pictures, list where you got everything, boom, a whole post! Even better, just by being the size I am and putting pictures of my body on the internet, I felt like I was striking a little itty bitty blow for body acceptance every time I did it. I figured even if the pictures that came out weren't the most flattering of me ever taken, that was okay, because I was still contributing to a diversity of image available for women to look at when trying to determine if their body is "okay". Yes, my head told me. This is a Good Thing, and an Easy Thing, and let's do it.
Unfortunately, the tribe of little doubt goblins had some words to say about this whole process. "Yes, we get the image diversity argument," they said. "But how about we don't put up that one where you can see how flabby your arms are? No one will know you have flabby arms if you don't put that picture up. It'll be like they don't even exist." This seemed like a reasonable compromise, so I started trying to only take "flattering" pictures. But I discovered once I gave those little fuckers a foothold, they can find a reason to veto just about every photo ever. "Not that one, you can see your belly. Not that one either, it looks like you don't have a waist. Not that one, you look like you have a double chin." The list of acceptable photos got smaller, and the reasons not to take any at all became almost overwhelming. "Don't do photos today, you're tired and there will be bags under your eyes. Not that dress, it frames your arms weirdly. Do you really think this outfit is worth photographing? I mean, there's nothing really special about it." And so on and so on, until I stopped taking outfit photos at all.
Obviously, eventually, I kicked myself in the butt and told myself to stop being so ridiculous. Sure, I have fatty bits. Sure, my arms look like uncooked hams from a certain angle. But fuck it! Fuck all this bullshit that tells me I'm not good enough for whatever fucking ridiculous reason today. Fuck those gremlins guys! FUCK ALL OF THAT.
|At first the gremlins are all, "Listen to meee, I'm ever so cute and only have your best interests at heart!"|
|...then the next thing you know they're shoving your self esteem in a blender.|
Later, while reviewing the photos, I tried pointed out the whole area of grotesque bulges as an explanation of why I'd reacted so strongly to some of the pictures, and he replied baffled, "But that's what you look like!"
For a second, this sentence made me want to curl into a little ball and cry. But then something really interesting happened - that sentence somehow triggered a whole unfolding pattern of understanding. I realised, for perhaps the first time, that I actually had never managed to fool Mr. Reluctant Femme into thinking I was thin, or even thinner. I know, that sentence sounds bizarre, but it's a little game that almost every woman I've ever known has played in their heads when it comes to sexual attractiveness. (I'm going to go ahead and guess it's probably not just women who play this game either)
So many of us believe that if we just wear the right things and pose the right way, our partner will somehow be fooled into thinking we're more attractive than we really are. If the charade is broken, if we let our guards down, their eyes will be opened and they'll realise they're dating some sort of grotesque monster, and they'll leave. For someone women I've seen this manifest as a need to wear makeup at all times around their partner - for others it's a "no trackpants" rule where they must wear "decent" clothes at all times. I'd never adhered to either of these - when it comes right down to it, I'm just too fucking lazy. I can keep that up if I'm dating someone casually, but once they move in my track pants are coming out. I've always thought these attempts to hide from someone you're spending your life with seemed a bit ridiculous. But I realised with that one little observation that I was actually playing the exact same game I had dismissing as silly. I still thought I had been somehow fooling Mr. Reluctant Femme. Like he didn't know, like he couldn't see me from unflattering angles, and that's why he hadn't realised and run screaming. Only...he had seen me from unflattering angles, as it turns out. He knows I have a great big jiggly belly, and upper arms that can like uncooked hams in certain light. And...he doesn't care. More than not caring, he seems to actually LIKE these things. Not because of any particular fat fetish, but because it's, as he put it, what I look like, and he's in love with me. Even the parts of me I thought I'd been hiding.
Which led me to a realisation that there is a whole part of this little tangle of neurosis that I HAVE been successfully hiding from him, and I shouldn't be. You see, I fucking HATE admitting to him that I feel fat. I hate, hate, HATE evenings where we're trying to go out and I just can't find anything I feel comfortable in because I've apparently ballooned in 20 minutes and everything suddenly, inexplicably looks awful - I hate that I can't hide my discomfort from him. I have mornings like that too, relatively often. But he goes to work earlier than I do, and I can have my little freakouts in private and he need never know. But when he's there to witness me taking things on and off and trying not to cry, it makes it all so much worse. I can't bear the thought of being That Girl. The way I figured it, my mental illness and relative unattractiveness on a societal standard were big enough drawbacks - being That Girl would make me nigh undateable. You know the one. The girl who asks their partner, "Do I look fat in this?" and gets angry regardless of what answer they give. The one who orders a salad and then gazes longingly at their partner's steak. The one who is touching up their makeup every 20 minutes, and insists that she looks "awful" first thing in the morning before leaping out of bed to make herself "presentable." You know the girl I mean - she's not a real person, she's an idea that our culture has created of How Girls Are, and I've always LOATHED her. I never, EVER wanted to be her, and admitting to my Boy that I don't always like my body feels perilously close to her territory.
But in a way, not telling him is behaving even more like that insufferable mythical Cleo girl. Not telling him and expecting him to just "know" that any pictures of me should minimise my arms, and then getting snippy when he doesn't, is bullshit. So I'm swearing off it, as of now.
Which brings me to one final revelation for this post, and this one is about you guys. I could just put up the best outfit pictures, do a little ramble about where I got the clothes, and pretend it's no big deal. But I feel like that would be really dishonest. It's not easy. I've read whole forests of literature on fat acceptance and body diversity, and I've talked about it till I'm blue in the face, and I'm a lot more okay with the skin I'm in than I used to be, or indeed than lots of people I know. But full length photos still freak me out. They're still hard, and I don't want you guys to think they're no big deal, and there's something wrong with you if you freak out too. I'm still going to post them, if only as a way for me to work through my own bullshit. But I do sincerely hope that the pictures, in combination with me spilling my innards all over the place, can helps someone work through their bullshit too, in a way that pictures alone can't do.